1. Howe, Cynthia M. MSN, RN, ONC

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As the New Year begins, the crisp fresh air of winter gives us a sense of renewal, especially as we look forward to adhering to the many resolutions that we have made. Generally, the annual ritual of establishing New Year's Resolutions involves making promises to ourselves to do more (take a class, join a gym, lose weight). This year I would like to suggest a resolution to do less!!

Figure. Cynthia M. H... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. Cynthia M. Howe, MSN, RN, ONC

I know that this may sound like strange advice coming from the same person who in the past has advocated doing "more" (joining a committee or task force, presenting an Osteoporosis educational meeting, writing to your Congressperson about important healthcare issues, etc.). While I feel that these are still important actions, many of us, if not all of us, could greatly benefit from an occasional "time out" for self-renewal.


Nurses are notorious for putting the needs of others before our own. It is easy to get caught up in the rat race of day-to-day pressures; activities and events can consume us and we often forget to take time out for ourselves for self-care, or self-renewal. Our own needs tend to be on the bottom of the perpetual "to do" list-if they make the list at all. We need to heed the advice that we so easily give to others to establish a work/life balance, reduce stress, and renew our spirits.


Self-care is one of the most important things that we can do for ourselves and others, yet it is not as easy as it sounds. For many of us this particular resolution is not new; we have made this commitment before to slow down, learn to relax, and reduce stress. Unfortunately, like most resolutions, we tend to revert back to old habits. In our busy lives, there is a conspicuous absence of scheduled blocks of time for self-renewal. We need to schedule our self-renewal time with the same importance as we would any other meeting or appointment. Caring for self is not selfish; it is a necessary precursor to caring for others. The airlines do a great job of reminding us of this principle every time the safety instructions state, "place your own oxygen mask on before assisting others." Let go of the guilt of tending to your own needs before others, as it is only by caring for yourself that you have the energy to care for others.


Now that we have committed to scheduling personal time, how will we fill that time? What will we do to lift our spirits and renew ourselves? Each of us must decide individually, some suggestions include: meditation, yoga, walk on the beach, take a bubble bath, rent a movie, take a nap, read a book, etc.


Whatever you choose, take the time you need to rejuvenate away from the constant interruptions from today's modern "conveniences." TV, telephone, cellphone, pagers, and the internet add to our hectic lifestyles. Give yourself a break from the constant stress of responding to others and focus on your own self-care; you (and those you care about) deserve it!!


I believe it is time now for me to practice what I preach and close this president's message by taking a much needed break. I hope that each of you will take one as well and have a happy, healthy reNew Year!!